Abstract: The dugong (Dugong dugon; Müller, 1776) is a vulnerable marine mammal species. This systematic review aims to provide information about the remaining populations, distributions, and habitat sites of the dugong in Southeast Asia. By combining this information with scientific research, critical knowledge gaps about dugongs in this region can be filled. This review showed that dugong populations have not only been reduced but also scattered in coastal waters. Little information is available about the remaining population numbers and distributions of dugongs. The largest estimated populations were reported around East Malaysia (688 to 1,376 dugongs); North Sulawesi, Indonesia (1,000 dugongs); and in the Andaman Sea, Thailand (200 to 250 dugongs). Published research has been very limited—approximately two articles per year. From 1993 until 2021, articles about the dugong were published in the context of ecology, conservation, biology, socioecology, biochemistry, and physiology. Visual and aerial surveying and anecdotal information about sightings and strandings of dugongs were the typical methods of research in Southeast Asia. The conservation strategy in this region is still focused on specific subject areas. The knowledge base for the species is lacking detailed quantitative data on remaining dugong populations, movements, habitats, and mating periods. Behavioral information lacks data for both spatial and temporal variations in foraging behavior, for example. Elucidation is needed in several different aspects of seagrass ecosystem dynamics. Improvements in captive dugong husbandry are also needed to ensure the sustainable conservation of the dugong in the region. National and international management decisions must be based on solid scientific data and multisector integration.
Key Words: sea cow, marine herbivorous mammal, distribution, gaps of knowledge
Page Numbers: 203-222
A Systematic Review of the Status, Knowledge, and Research Gaps of Dugong in Southeast Asia